Writer Edward Albee
Directed by Tony Richardson
Also available in The American Film Theatre 14 Film Collection (AFT Megaset)
Oscar-winner Katharine Hepburn (The Philadelphia Story
, The Lion in Winter
), Oscar-winner Paul Scofield (A Man for All Seasons
, Quiz Show
), Oscar-nominee Lee Remick (Days of Wine and Roses
), and Joseph Cotten (The Third Man
) form the core of A Delicate Balance
's miraculous, one-night-only dream cast. Acclaimed British director Tony Richardson (Tom Jones
) allows these thoroughbreds to explore and discover the full range of conflict and confrontation in Edward Albee's (Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?
) explosive WASP gothic with both appreciative generosity and masterful control.
Agnes (Hepburn), as domineering and sarcastic as her husband Tobias (Scofield) is equivocating and guarded, finds her empty Connecticut nest invaded. First, Claire, Agnes' alcoholic sister (the scene-stealingly brilliant Kate Reid), arrives to bitterly spar with her more stable sibling. Then, Agnes and Tobias' luckless in love daughter Julia (Remick) returns home on the heels of yet another failed marriage. But the fuse on this upper-middle class powder keg comes in the form of friends Harry (Cotten) and Edna (Betsy Blair), who appear on the doorstep seeking shelter from an ephemeral emotional cave-in that has left them terrified, for reasons they can't name, of being alone.
Harry and Edna's solace becomes Agnes and Tobias' undoing as two generations raised to need love, not to give it, and who use language to dissect truth and feeling, not to share it, turn first to each other -- then against each other. Albee's musically attuned dialogue is showcased with a sensitivity and savagery that Richardson's intimately filmed visualization focuses on with unflinching clarity. As each self-blinded character ignores the achingly bared soul of the others, Albee's living room demolition derby leaves no one intact.
"A superlative record of Albee's play, enthrallingly brought to the screen." - Stanley Eichelbaum, The San Francisco Examiner